The Daily Collegian's Board of Directors will meet privately in June to evaluate the recent firing of news adviser John Harvey, as many of the paper's journalists and alumni have protested the dismissal.
The board will meet in a "fact finding" session closed to the public. If it determines action must be taken, "an emergency open session will be held with notice," according a statement released by the board.
Collegian General Manager Gerry Hamilton declined to comment on the specifics of the firing because he does "not discuss the details of such decisions in public." He added that he will serve as news adviser until further notice and will answer any questions asked by the board of directors.
Harvey said he was fired May 20 by Collegian General Manager Gerry Hamilton for insubordination, but said he believes the firing stems from an incident regarding his salary that occurred nearly a year ago.
"I hope that in their fact finding session they'll find all of the facts - not just from [Hamilton] and from the lawyers, but from everyone, like a good reporter would do," Harvey said. "I'm praying the board is going to do the right thing. That's what we ask our students to do. I'm not ready to give up because I don't think that this was a just firing, and there's enough support that shows that this is something the board should take a really hard look at."
Board President Michael Hofherr declined comment, but Collegian Editor-in-Chief and board member Rossilynne Skena said it was "really important" that the board convene.
"I could speak volumes about how John is an inspiring teacher of journalism," Skena said. "His candidacy program turned rookie reporters into professional journalists. John is a valuable and an integral part of the newsroom."
The Daily Collegian's Alumni Interest Group (AIG) issued a statement last week supporting Harvey, calling on the board to reverse the dismissal and placing a moratorium on fundraising for the Collegian.
The financial protest will remain in place until the AIG board "is satisfied that Collegian Inc. is moving in a direction the AIG can support," according to the AIG statement.
"We've heard from alumni who say now they won't give a penny to the Collegian," said AIG President Jill Leonard.
Leonard, who said the AIG was surprised by the dismissal, said that not only recent alumni have joined the cause, but also older alumni, who are often "in a better position to contribute."
Hamilton, who said he has worked at the paper since 1977, said he was disappointed with the moratorium. However, he said he does not have a problem with Harvey's students showing their support. Harvey has worked at the paper for 11 years.
"For any students that have had a close relationship with John, I don't see a reason why they should not celebrate that," he said. "They have pleasant memories; that's something for them."
As news adviser, Harvey has taught and trained hundreds of Penn State students, guiding them through a semester of journalism training before they became staff members, provided they passed the training program.
A Facebook group and blog have united more than 300 members in support of Harvey.
Students and alumni in the group have written that Harvey mentored them during and after their college years and played an integral part in helping them find jobs.
Harvey said he's received many supportive e-mails from current Collegian staff members and alumni of the organization.
"It's overwhelming. It's just - it's just the most humbling experience of my life," he said of the response. "It's just unbelievable."
Harvey said he felt sorry that current students will begin the publishing year amid the circumstances. The Daily Collegian resumes publication July 1.
Though he cleaned out his office immediately upon being fired, Harvey said he has yet to remove the belongings from his car.
"It's like a shot in the stomach," Harvey said. "It's hard to fathom."